What the Different Warning Lights in Your Car Mean

Whether you are getting your first car or your fiftieth, whether you are sixteen or sixty, and whether you drive an automatic or manual transmission, even the most experienced drivers sometimes don’t know what the warning lights on their dashboards mean. Even when they know what they represent, the meaning can escape them.

For instance, everyone generally know which light is the “check engine” light. It either looks like an engine or is just the words “CHECK ENGINE” to keep things obvious. But not everyone knows what this light indicates. Sure, it tells you what to do. But without knowing why it tells you to do that, you might not listen.

To that end, Village Autoworks has prepared this handy guide on what is going on in your car when the most common warning lights are lit up. This will help you understand the meaning of lights better.

  • The Check Engine Light

The aforementioned check engine light is not the most commonly seen one, but it is perhaps the most important. The thing about it is, there really is a situation where the check engine light is not urgent. The check engine light is used to indicate that the gas cap is open. So, if this light is on, check that out first.

If the gas cap is closed, then go straight to an auto shop. This is not a recommendation; it is imperative. The engine is a complex beast, but the check engine light only comes on when there is something detected in the part of the engine that combusts. That is the last place you want a malfunction, so get it checked quick.

  • The Engine Temperature Warning Light

This is a light that looks like a thermometer. It indicates that there is something abnormal about your engine’s temperature. The thing is, there is really only one way your engine’s temperature can be abnormal, and that is in the case of an overheat. You do not want to mess around with an overheat.

If the engine temperature warning comes up, pull over if you can and turn off your engine. If you have coolant, add the coolant and try to get to an auto shop quickly. If you do not have coolant, do not risk an engine fire. It is much better to take things slow and get a tow truck than it is to risk anything.

  • Oil Pressure Light

This warning light looks like an old-fashioned oil can, the kind that limbers up the tin man in the Wizard of Oz. This indicates there is an issue with oil pressure, either due to an oil leak or your oil being old. The light will not indicate one from the other, so it is best to just play it safe and assume it is a leak.

In either case, this is not as urgent as a check engine warning or an engine temperature warning. Oil leaks are a problem, but they will not destroy your car in the way an engine fire will. Get your oil changed, but don’t feel obligated to treat your car as carefully as when your engine is overheating.

Those are the three most common warning lights. Now you know what they are indicating and have a rough idea of what to do in response to them. Drive safe, and remember to use Village Autoworks in Roseville MN for all your oil change, engine repair, and coolant needs.